In today’s world, the GFCI (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter) receptacle is being required in more and more locations throughout the home. These devices are designed to protect you from electrical shock hazards.
Many people think that your circuit breakers or fuses are supposed to do that but that is not the case. Circuit breakers and fuses merely protect the wiring from overloads and short circuits. They don’t prevent you from getting a nasty shock form a faulty appliance or other electrical device.
In the past these devices were required in bathrooms and locations that were considered to potentially be wet like garages, unfinished basements and outdoor outlets. Today the codes have been revised to include some plug in appliances, kitchens, garage door openers just to name a few. As a St. Louis and St. Charles electrical service contractor that deals with these issues on a daily basis we feel some of the new required applications for GFCI receptacles are problematic at best however we are obligated to follow the new codes.
GFCI’s can be a life saver in a critical situation where a shock hazard exists. However in other cases they can be a “pain in the……..” In some newer homes less than a couple of years old, we are being required to install GFCI protection on outlets with garage door openers, freezers, refrigerators, and other appliances, even sump pumps. The issue we have with these applications is the problems people have when the GFCI ‘trips’ when no one is home. Can you imaging coming home to find your refrigerator/freezer to be at room temperature with a huge puddle of water on the floor and all your food items spoiled? How about driving up to your garage door in a torrential rain storm only to find out that the door won’t open because a GFCI tripped? And there is that water issue in your basement when the GFCI on a sump pump circuit trips and the sump pump no longer works.
We have been asked by homeowners to remove GFCI’s in such locations that have been causing problems. We feel your pain but as a licensed contractor, we can not honor requests of this type. If there was an event such as a shock or fire and we had removed a GFCI previous to the event, we could be held liable for the damages.
When requirements such as these newer GFCI requirements come up, we along with other contractors throughout St. Louis, St. Charles take time to talk to the people that write these new codes and requirements perhaps getting them to think about unwanted consequences of a particular paragraph of code.
If you are having problems with GFCI receptacles or other electrical issues, please let us know so we can assist you in relieving that problem.